The Department for Education and Skills has confirmed trainee teacher numbers will fall by 1,500 from September, to 34,300. Ministers originally considered a cut of 4,000 because of falling pupils numbers in primaries but the Government said that problems recruiting early years and shortage secondary subject teachers demanded a more modest reduction.
From September there will be 15,800 places for primary school trainees, a fall of 3 per cent on last year. The fall follows a 7 per cent increase in places for primary teachers between 2003 and 2004.
Newly-qualified teachers have complained of unprecedented competition for jobs this year, with as many as a quarter of summer graduates in England being left without work according to a TES survey in September.
In Wales, job shortages have been more acute and primary teacher places are to be cut by 10 per cent next year. In England, places for secondary school teachers will be cut by 5 per cent in 2005, to 18,500, after target numbers remained static last year.
The Government insisted the fall was due to the Teacher Training Agency's success in raising recruitment to its highest level since 1975.
The TTA was this week calculating how to divide places between universities and school-based training schemes. Recruitment expert Professor John Howson said: "We are seeing the combined effect of falling rolls in the primary and secondary sector along with an over-supply of new teachers in certain areas."
But he criticised the length of time taken this year to publish detailed recruitment targets, claiming training institutions should be warned of allocations long before Christmas to enable planning to start early.